The Marshall Mathers LP

  • Aftermath/Interscope

How does a moronic, slime talking, homophobic, pornographic, hate-meister misogynist like Eminem manage to become the hottest selling rapper of the summer of 2000? Ask the 15-year-olds from the suburbs. They'll tell you. It's just a joke. Don't take it too seriously. And when he raps about mother raping ("Kill You") slitting the throat of a former lover who can be heard screaming desperately for her life ("Kim"), or brutal gay-bashing ("I'm Back"), remember — it's just a joke.

Slipping all that venom into ultra-slick grooves and rapid-fire rhymes like those heard on the massive hit single "The Real Slim Shady" makes this Dr. Dre-produced set all the more palatable for those who are either downloading it onto their computers or buying it up by the boxload. The end of the world as we know it? Perhaps. But the truth is, that the age of Columbine has found its perfect twisted kingpin in Eminem. His latest disc is so patently offensive and so blatantly contrived to outrage parents that it will only further enhance the raunchy Detroit rapper's reputation.

If it sometimes seems like all that's selling is either this shock-rap or the candy pop of Britney Spears and 'N Sync, then yes, you have been paying attention to the Billboard charts. But it's tough not to have a sinking feeling that there's got to be something better in between.

Kevin O'Hare